LEED Gold Certified co-op and rental property situated in the South Bronx conceived by Phipps Houses, the Jonathan P. Rose Companies, Dattner Architects and Grimshaw Architects and built by Lettire Construction. Phipps House Services is the managing agent.
PLEASE JOIN US FORTHE FINAL MEETING OF THE 2013 SEASON OF THE VIA VERDE GARDEN
NOVEMBER 16,10AM TO 12 Noon VIA VERDE COMMUNITY ROOM, 20TH FLOOR
Please join us for a wrap up of the 2013
Season and to celebrate the fantastic first year of the Via Verde Garden Club
and our nearly 1000 lbs. harvest. We will also have time to brainstorm ideas to
make the 2014 Season even better so all of your ideas are welcome.
Meeting Agenda Items:
·Garden member agreement discussion,
attendance, maintenance, tasks etc.
·Fresh Food Box challenges/suggestions
·Spring crop suggestions for 2014
Garden planting plan, final harvest tally
·Winter cover crop, winterizing
garden, season extensions
·December wreath –making workshop,
Saturday, December 7, 10-12 noon.
·Other agenda items? Please submit to
Gerard by Nov 13, 5pm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published: October 31, 2013 Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Mr. Fornal at Nano Billiard Cafe, which is featured in his movie, “Baron Ambrosia Is Dead.”
“It’s the real deal,” said the man, Justin Fornal, who is known as the wacky culinary explorer Baron Ambrosia, as he dug into a plate of pan-fried sticky rice with his fingers. “It’s Baron-approved.”
If New York City’s fine dining establishments live by Michelin stars and Zagat ratings, the myriad homegrown restaurants and shops of the Bronx have their own roving critic. Those that please the Baron’s palate are recommended to his fans and featured in his ever-expanding portfolio of media projects, which includes podcasts and two culinary-themed shows on the Cooking Channel and BronxNet, a local cable television network.
Now Mr. Fornal has cast some of his favorite Bronx places in a movie, “Baron Ambrosia Is Dead,” which will be shown free on Saturday at the Andrew Freedman Home, a landmark site on the Grand Concourse. The movie, which was produced by BronxNet and Sony Creative Software, sends the Baron on a madcap escapade through congestion-free streets and charming ethnic enclaves with cameos by his real-life friends, including the hip-hop musician known as Grandmaster Melle Mel.
Notably, there is not one shot of a burning building — and, unlike that other movie about the Bronx, no Fort Apache-like police station under siege, either.
Mr. Fornal is not a Bronx native, but his homage to his adopted borough has won him a following among its 1.4 million residents. The borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., proclaimed him the Bronx’s official culinary ambassador, and a giant photo of the Baron was splashed across a billboard near the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough) last year as part of an advertising campaign for his show on the Cooking Channel.
“We’ve adopted him, too,” said Marlene Cintron, who oversees economic development for the borough. “He’s a wonderful ambassador not just for Bronx food, but for the Bronx experience.”
Still, Ms. Cintron added, “The first time I saw him, I had to blink a couple times.”
Mr. Fornal, 35, was a pop of color on a recent gray, overcast afternoon as he strode down the street in a vintage purple suit, an oversize bow tie with the Baron’s initials, matching shoes and an umbrella. Purple was his color, he said, because “it’s the color of celestial funkiness.” In the movie, he drives a purple convertible, which he built with his father.
“It’s not an act, it’s not a character, it’s what I like to do every day,” he said. “So many people settle for what’s safe and what doesn’t raise eyebrows. They’re living at a fraction of what they could be. Every time I step out of the house, I want to live 110 percent.”
Mr. Fornal, who grew up in Killingworth, Conn., followed his then-girlfriend — now wife — to her family’s home in the Bronx in 1999 after studying filmmaking and history at the University of Pittsburgh. Soon he was exploring every corner of the Bronx, “blown away,” he said, by “the diversity and all the ethnic enclaves that were still intact instead of being homogenized and watered down.”
In 2006, Mr. Fornal invented the Baron Ambrosia persona and started capturing his adventures in a series of podcasts called “Underbelly.” Two years later, he developed and starred in “Bronx Flavor,” a show on BronxNet, in which the Baron fought villains and ate his way across the borough. “He makes it kind of comical and then you actually learn about the Bronx,” Melle Mel said.
Michael Max Knobbe, executive director of BronxNet, described Mr. Fornal as a gifted storyteller who is helping to define the present-day Bronx rather than dwelling on stereotypes of the past. “Many leaders and organizations have worked to make the Bronx a symbol of urban renewal,” he said. “Baron illuminates that, and is a champion of small businesses and people striving and thriving.”
Food often has a central role. Mr. Fornal, a self-taught cook, said he did not see himself as a chef or a food critic but as a culinary anthropologist. And, he said, “obviously, I have a very ravenous appetite.”
Max Falkowitz, the New York editor at Serious Eats, a food blog and website, said that while he was not familiar with all of Mr. Fornal’s culinary picks, some, like the Bangladeshi restaurant Neerob in Parkchester, were highly regarded. He praised Mr. Fornal for drawing attention to a borough that is not known for its food. “The Bronx needs someone who can get really excited about the quality of the food there and who can share it with others in an accessible and engaging way,” Mr. Falkowitz said.
“Baron Ambrosia Is Dead,” which was shot over the past few years, follows the Baron as he breaks out of jail (where he landed in the last episode of “Bronx Flavor”) and returns to old haunts like the kitchen at Neerob, and Frank Bee, a family-owned costume store in Throgs Neck.
Mr. Fornal also took his film crew to Nano Billiard Cafe. Regulars playing billiards and dominoes were pressed into service for a fight scene. The cook behind the lunch counter, Anita Romero, 53, is shown mixing huge pots with a long wooden spoon.
Under Ms. Romero’s watchful gaze recently, Mr. Fornal cleaned his plate, then he headed upstairs to hit the Bronx streets. “A lot of people ask me if I was born in the Bronx,” he said. “My reply is, ‘No, I chose the Bronx.’ I want people to come here and appreciate our community for what it is.”
A version of this article appears in print on November 1, 2013, on page A24 of the New York edition with the headline: A Colorful Food Lover’s Feast for the Eyes, Starring Flavors of the Bronx.
On Jan. 1, the next mayor — either Bill de Blasio, the Democratic candidate, or Joe Lhota, the Republican — will face a fiscal cliff of unpaid bills. Schools will need to be saved, union contracts negotiated — the future of New York envisioned.
In his 12-year tenure, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg built a gleaming Oz of new parks and plazas, skyscrapers and bike lanes. This didn’t stop plenty of terrible buildings from going up. But a focus on streets and architecture redrew whole swaths of the city: Brownstone Brooklyn boomed, the High Line opened, industrial wastelands became waterfront playgrounds. Urban living became a cause, a public good. Design, down to the curbside and the public bench, was no longer an afterthought, although the city became increasingly unaffordable to many.
The next mayor can keep architecture and planning front and center or risk taking the city backward. Courage, guile and not a little art will be required to meet the obvious challenge: building on the good parts of Mr. Bloomberg’s urban vision, but also doing some course correcting. The social welfare of all cities is inextricable from their physical fabric. A more equitable and livable city is ultimately smartly and sustainably designed. New York’s competitive future depends on getting this right.
Some moves are no-brainers: extending the bike lanes, bike shares, the plaza program, rapid-bus service, the High Line and the No. 7 subway; pushing forward with charging stations for electric vehicles, preparations for the next Sandy-like storm, and PlaNYC 2030, Mayor Bloomberg’s guidelines for a greener future.
It would also be hard to find a cogent argument against extending the Bloomberg administration’s Design and Construction Excellence Program, which raised the bar for public buildings like branch libraries, fire stations and police precincts, spreading new work by gifted local architects and by some stars, too, across the five boroughs.
At the same time, the billionaire mayor, unbeholden to special interests and devoted to data, attracted competent and dynamic commissioners, whom he let run departments as they saw fit. And he hired a powerful deputy mayor, Daniel L. Doctoroff, who cooked up major renewal projects across the city. The American Institute of Architects has floated the notion that the next mayor should appoint a deputy for design and planning. The city relies on zoning, a blunt instrument, to shape communities, which leaves us with atrocities like Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue development.
A new deputy mayor could coordinate parks, schools, transportation, landmarks, buildings and small-business development — now controlled by agencies that have too often failed to work together — in ways that might streamline construction, save tax dollars and foster neighborhoods. A deputy mayor for design could also help rethink some undercooked Bloomberg initiatives, like redeveloping Willets Point in Queens as a shopping mall; rezoning 73 blocks of East Midtown; and awarding $150 million in taxpayer money to redo the New York Public Library building at 42nd Street before there was even a solid renovation plan. (That plan may yet be forthcoming, as library officials promise, but, meanwhile, branches across the city are starved for cash.)
Everything worth doing in New York comes down to money, of course: who has it, how to get it. Building even one new PATH station ends up costing billions of dollars. Cognizant that government can’t pay for everything, Mayor Bloomberg trusted developers and the rich to share his sense of public duty. That produced some innovative public-private ventures, like Brooklyn Bridge Park. But it also fueled the mantra of disgruntled New Yorkers that much of Manhattan was becoming a corporate retreat, illustrated by the conversion of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village into the site for yet another luxury condo complex, and by One57, a 1,000-foot apartment tower for Russian oligarchs and other zillionaires. Now rising across from Carnegie Hall, it is a blight on the skyline.
By contrast, recent residences for the formerly homeless in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been buildings of architectural distinction — boons to their cities. One of the lessons of Via Verde, a pioneering mixed-income development in the South Bronx, which has thrived since opening last year (I drop in from time to time on the gardening club), is that a modest premium for green design and architectural excellence produces social and economic dividends. A new mayor could encourage more exceptional designs like Via Verde for at least a percentage of subsidized housing projects.
I have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Andres Pacheco. He officially started on Thursday, October 10th and will be working alongside Mr. Edgardo Colon, Supt. If you see him, please welcome him to the Community.